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Rave reviews, but I don't get it

Stealing a thread idea from the LA board, I'd like to request Baltimore/DC hounds to list restaurants that get rave reviews (on chowhound or elsewhere) that you simply can't understand. You know, the places that everybody else seems to love, that leave you baffled as to why. What's YOUR list?

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  1. The Helmand. I just don't get it. I've eaten there multiple times and each time I come away with the same impression: the food is OK, but nothing to deserve the rave reviews.

    3 Replies
    1. re: KAZ

      Wow, Helmand in Baltimore is my favorite Afghan restaurant in the US. To each his/her own I guess.

      1. re: Lowbar

        I love the Helmand, especially for how much it costs and the pleasant service and atmosphere; it tastes very unique.

      2. re: KAZ

        I love the Helmand too. Never had bad food there!

      3. I'm going to avoid ranting about the Cheesecake Factory/Macaroni Grill because that's been done to death.

        2 Amys. You can use the best ingredients in the world and still end up with a burnt pie in a poorly ventilated restaurant that's kid-friendly in all the wrong ways.

        Breadline. It's not so much that sandwiches are overrated, but that everything else in that area is so aweful, people are willing to put up with long lines and high prices and surly service for something that won't make you violently ill.

        Five Guys. Case study of franchising done wrong. Making franchisers buy 5 stores means they end up cash poor. Consequently, they try and recoup their investment by cutting corners. And frying twice is the ONLY way to keep them from turning into grease sponges. A pound of greasy fries is a pound of greasy fries.

        13 Replies
          1. re: Tugboat

            I'm with MLP on this. Our experience is that 2 Amys is an overpriced, inconsistent "gem." Glad your experience is different though.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              Every single restaurant I love has "let me down" from time to time. It is the nature of the business. 2 Amy's is no exception.

              But I love that place. Warts and all.

              They make some of the best food in DC on a regular basis with a HUGE number of customers. Just try to get in there on a Saturday or Sunday before 1:00 PM.

              I can see how you would say they are inconsistent. All restaurants are.

              But I am not sure about over priced. Great wine program at decent prices.

              And their specials are to die for.

              For a long period of time, my family and I drove every Sunday to eat there from Baltimore. I still try to get there as much as possible.

          2. re: monkeyrotica

            Thank you, thank you.

            Five Guy's is alright maybe once a year. Unfortunately everyone in my office wants it every other week. Much better burgers to be had elsewhere; heck, I'd probably take Ollie's Trolly burgers for lunch downtown before five guys.

            2 Amys, on the other hand, I would never say is bad. I do enjoy their pizza, but it's just not as great as everyone says. It's slightly above average pizza (for dc) with higher prices. I'd take a pie from Vace over 2 Amys any day.

            1. re: jrsmoltz

              I agree that Five Guys is utterly overrated. The burgers are alright, but the fries are so greasy that they'll eat through the brown paper bag. If you want great fries and burgers, then you should check out Lindy's Red Lion in Foggy Bottom...a much better alternative.

              1. re: vjs

                Others have pointed this out in other threads, but it bears repeating. In commenting for good or ill on Five Guys, it would help to specify which location(s) is/are the basis for the opinion. Even as a local chain, there's a certain amount of variability between locations.

                1. re: Warthog

                  You make a good point...the one I speak of is the Five Guys at National Place, around 12th & F (or something like that).

                  1. re: Warthog

                    Thanks Warthog for the good point. Just like vjs, I have eaten the burgers and greasy fries from the National Place location at 13th and F, and had the same experience at the Chinatown one at 9th and H.

                    1. re: Warthog

                      That's a good point, though I've had overly greasy fries at the Tyson's, Bowie, and G'burg/Shady Grove Rd. locations. Keeps me from eating fries, so in a way it works out, lol.

                2. re: monkeyrotica

                  2 Amy's is the only denominazione d'origine protetatta pizzeria in the area. Have you ever had a pizza in Napoli? Rome? Florence? Anywhere in Italy? If not, you should know that ALL the pizza has a burnt bottom crust. They HAVE to because they are cooked in 600 degree wood fired ovens so that they don't get soggy. Sorry, that's just the way it is. If you want really good pizza without that burn bottom, go to Sette Osteria. Pretty darned good, but not DOP.

                  1. re: dctoflorence

                    I can't speak for Pizza Roma or Pizza Fiorentino , but the Pizza Napoletana crust is NOT burnt, it's charred.

                    As for the certification: 1) it's DOC (d'orgine controlla) not DOP; and 2) VPN America allows "members" so much leeway in terms of equipment, techniques, and ingredients, that the certification is little more than a marketing tool.

                    If 2 Amys cooking at 600°F, they're at least 200°F too low, and if they're cooking at 600°C, they're at least 90°C too high.

                    1. re: pgym

                      Aww, boo. It's a shame that VPN allows such variance. I guess I'll be missing a lot when I move back to the states. I guess once you have had good products, it's totally hard to go back. Not looking forward to nasty pizza, even if it's DOC.

                  2. re: monkeyrotica

                    The key to 2 Amys... go for lunch and only order the D'Oc pizzas. Otherwise it is too loud, with bad service and inconsistent food.

                  3. Most: Pasta Mia

                    Then, in no particular order:

                    Asia Nora
                    Lauriol Plaza
                    Georgia Brown's
                    ZPizza
                    Meskerem
                    Caucus Room
                    Breadline
                    Cakelove (not on chowhound)
                    Mexicali Blues
                    Urban BBQ
                    Rocklands
                    all the "fancy" pizza places (Pizzeria Paradisio, 2 Amy's, etc)...matter of personal taste i guess

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Lowbar

                      I disagree with Mexicali Blues and Rocklands. I've enjoyed the burritos, soft tacos, and papusas at Mexalic Blues and I've often enjoyed the BBQ at Rocklands. I use to love going to the Rocklands in Clarendon/Ballston (the one that was attached to Carpool). Too bad it's not there anymore.

                    2. Cashions - yeah its comfort food, and it uses seasonal ingredients, but I still find it a little boring.

                      1. Can't stand Cakelove. We need better, fun bakeries in this city and it's near burbs.

                        But LOVE me some Cashions.